Greek soccer player Giorgos Katidis has been banned for life from playing for any Greek National team after giving a Nazi salute while celebrating a goal in a match on Saturday, the Associated Press reported.
Katidis, a midfielder for AEK Athens, threw his arm forward after scoring the winning goal in his team’s 2-1 victory over Veria in the Greek league, according to the AP.
Greece’s football federation called the salute "a deep insult to all victims of Nazi brutality,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The 20-year-old footballer said he didn’t know his gesture was the Nazi salute and apologized on television and Twitter, the AP reported.
AEK Coach Ewald Lienen, who is German, said Katidis doesn't have an "idea about politics,” according to the LA Times.
The brouhaha comes on the 70th anniversary of the first deportations of Jews living in Thessaloniki, Greece, to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp in Poland, the JTA news service reported.
Speaking at Monastiriotes Synagogue in Thessaloniki today, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras vowed to crack down on neo-Nazi groups, JTA reported.
"We have to be very careful to remember the message of 'Never again.' The fight against neo-Nazis is more important than ever," Samaras said, JTA reported.
According to JTA:
In recent months Greece has seen a sudden and dramatic rise in the power of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, which swept into parliament with 18 seats in last year's election.